Wednesday 20 December 2023


Mythic Bastionland is largely a game about travelling. How does that work?


The Company are part way through a journey between two distant holdings. Ref points to their current Hex location on the map.

Ref: Okay, you wake up and clear away the camp. It’s…

Ref makes a few rolls on the Nature Spark Tables for Sky and Weather.

Ref: There’s a pale haze in the air, not enough to really hinder your view, but gives a slight fuzz to the forested mountains in the distance. There’s a dull humidity in the air, no breeze at all, a contrast to yesterday’s bitter storm!

Moss: Yeah, sounds better to me.

Tal: So we keep going, right? 

Tal gestures to their final destination on the map, then to the next Hex in that direction.

Tal: Head over there, I think. Wait, can we see anything around us?

Ref: Sure, you camped on a decent vantage point, so you got a good look at your surroundings. You can see this Hex is mostly rolling hills, a few patchy forests.

Ref points to the Hex Tal had indicated as their next destination.

Tal: In that direction it looks much the same, no sign of any real points of interest.

On their own map, Ref sees that a different adjacent Hex has a Monument landmark. In their notes this is an “Eternal Hearth”.

Ref: Over to the West you can see there’s some sort of structure in amongst the hills, a little smoke rising from it. 

Moss: Ah… we could go and get some proper rest over there. It’s kind of out of our way, though. 

Tal: Yeah… we’re in good condition, though. Maybe let’s just mark it on our map for now and check it out another time.

Moss: Okay, works for me.


Focusing on long distance travel calls for a sort of “zoomed out” approach that can be daunting in comparison to the more moment-by-moment play of exploration and combat. 

Here I like that Ref takes a moment to set the scene beyond just the paper map in front of them. Even seemingly inconsequential weather and sky descriptions help to paint the scene of the Knights travelling across great distances and significant passages of time, and give some evocative sensory context in comparison to the relatively abstract Hex map. 

The Spark Tables are a great source for this, and I always keep them to hand when running the game.

Ref also ensures the players have the information needed to make interesting choices. In particular, telling them that they can see something in a neighbouring Hex, but not outright stating what it is. Now they face a choice between continuing to their destination or taking a detour to a potentially useful location. 

There’s also a good amount of generosity on display here. Ref states that there’s a haze in the air, but not enough to obscure the Knights view. They also assume that the Knights set up camp on a vantage point, allowing them to easily survey their surroundings. I’d always lean in this direction, but I absolutely wouldn’t hesitate to make the Knights’ lives difficult when the dice prompt it. 

For example, if the weather roll was “Solid Fog” then I think it’s entirely appropriate to say that the Knights can’t see into their neighbouring hexes, perhaps even needing to travel blind unless they have a way to maintain their course. 


This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon. 

Wednesday 6 December 2023

Which Virtue?

We're entering the final 24 hours for Mythic Bastionland!

Here's a little extract from the Oddpocrphya section of Mythic Bastionland.


After their character died last session, Tal has created a new character, the Riddle Knight. The Company are already worn down, having suffered CLA loss on their journey. They’re hunting a rogue knight who’s been harassing travellers.

Ref: So this is the hill where you heard the rogue knight was last spotted. What’s the plan from here?

Tal: How about we search for tracks. I can roll Clarity for that, right?

Ref: Erm… Hang on.

Ref looks at the Action Procedure and asks a few clarifying questions to Tal.

Ref: So the risk is that by scouring around these woods looking for tracks you might attract some unwanted attention.

Moss: Wait, if we’re just searching for something quickly could I use Vigour instead? That’s for like… athletic stuff, right?

Ref: Hm, no, I think that doesn’t really work here. Clarity is sharp senses and quick thinking, which is what’s being used here. 

Tal: Urgh, we’ve both got super low Clarity at the minute. I wish I’d thought of this before we came all the way out here.

Ref: Well there’s always another way. Instead of scouring for tracks you could try to find somebody to talk to, see if they’ve encountered the rogue knight.

Tal: Oh, and if we get “guidance from a Seer” then we recover our Clarity, right? I know it’s quite far, but we could travel over to this sanctum (points to the map) where we know there’s a Seer living.

Moss: Works for me, we might get some other good info while we’re there.

Ref: Great, so which way are you travelling?


With just three Virtues to choose from, it’s usually quite clear which Virtue should be used for a particular Save, or damaged by a particular harmful effect. Ref is pretty confident that Clarity is the Virtue to use for covertly tracking an enemy, and I’d agree with them here. 

In those cases where it’s not so clear I tend to err on the side of giving the players the final say, but I’d hope that these instances are rare. If they start occurring frequently then I’d perhaps take a moment to talk through the Virtues with the players, making sure everybody understands what each of them represents for their character. 

In this example we see that having low scores in a Virtue can create some interesting moments, here driving the players to seek out a Seer in the hope of both recovering their Clarity and getting the information they were looking for. 

If there wasn’t a Seer nearby then Ref could still have suggested some alternative directions for them to take, and speaking with the locals is usually a good direction to nudge players toward. 

If the players are desperate to restore a Virtue, and the most obvious means of doing so is too far away, then remind them that Remedies exist, suggesting where they might be found. Although they represent uncommon goods, a holding will usually at least be able to point them in the right direction. For Stimulant, which is used to restore Clarity, perhaps they’d be directed toward a local herbalist or alchemist in service of the ruler, remembering that these things are never given away for free.

If all else fails, remember that moving to a new Season or Age restores all Virtues, so sometimes an impromptu time skip can be the best way to move things forward. 


This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon. 

Wednesday 29 November 2023

Sparking Conflict

Mythic Bastionland is approaching its final week of funding! 

Go and check it out.

Now onto the actual post.

So you've built a nice Mythic Bastionland realm where everybody lives happily alongside each other.

Let's fix that. Who do we have in in the four holdings of this realm?

The Amber Knight rules over Archforth, the Seat of Power in the centre of the Realm
The Boulder Knight rules over Buckwall, a fortress in the West
The Chain Knight rules over Castle Churn in the North
The Dawnfather, high priest of a sun cult, rules over the town of Daybreak in the East

We'll use the Spark Tables in the Quickstart to make them nice and complicated.

First we'll give each one an internal conflict. The Drama, Woe, and News tables can all work for this, so we'll just jump between them.

Archforth: Jealousy/Family - A powerful family, let's say they're more money-powerful than knightly-powerful, jealously eye the seat of power, waiting for the Amber Knight to slip up and allow them to seize the support of enough of the other vassals.
Sanctioned/Famine - The harvest failed, so food is being strictly rationed, so much so that people are actually starving. Tough times over here.
Castle Churn:
Tournament/Content - A tournament is being planned, and I guess "content" means that this holding can comfortably spare the resources to make it a lavish event. A real contrast to Buckwall.
Banishment/Duel - The Dawnfather has been challenged to a duel, with the loser being banished from the realm. He seeks a champion, as he's no fighter himself. 

Next we'll take each pairing of Holdings and create some inter-holding conflict. Here's we're rolling first on the Relationship table to see how the Rulers are connected, then on the Conflict table to see how their Holdings are in conflict with each other. I like the idea that the relationship between rulers and holdings might not always add up. Sometimes the council make demands of their ruler, and sometimes circumstances give you little choice but to go to war with a dear friend. 

Archforth and Buckwall

Harmonious/Friend - The Amber and Boulder Knights share a lot of common interests and values, enjoying a unified desire for peace in the realm. 

Bloodfeud/Occupation - Buuuut, the conflict between their Holdings goes back further than themselves. Powerful families within each Holding have long feuded, and each have seats in their respective councils, ensuring the feud continues. The current status is that Archforth keeps a small garrison inside to Buckwall, an occupation attempting to keep things contained. 

Archforth and Castle Churn

Hateful/Peer - The Amber and Chain Knights once travelled together in the same company, but quickly grew to hate each other. The Chain Knight especially resents this new situation where the Amber Knight holds authority over them. 

Theft/Negotiations - Thieves from Castle Churn have stolen a tax coffer headed to Archforth, denying it of course. Archforth has entered into tense negotiations to try to amend this crime, hoping to avoid sending an armed presence to another of its holdings. 

Archforth and Daybreak

Friendly/Rival - The Amber Knight and the Dawnfather share a friendly relationship, though the Dawnfather is open about his desire to convert the whole Realm to his cult. This honesty actually keeps things quite civil, and so far no boundaries have been pushed... until...

Waterway/Standoff - Daybreak is the Realm's sole eastern port, and Archforth has used it to ship merchants in and out of the realm for generations. The Dawnfather has now cut them off, demanding a higher cut of the profits. The negotiations have stalled at a deadlock, with neither side benefiting from the current situation, but neither wanting to give ground to their rival. 

Buckwall and Castle Churn

Hateful/Supporter - The Boulder Knight has the poorest lands in the realm, the Chain Knight has the most bountiful. Surplus grain has long been traded at a generous price, but resentment grows each year that Buckwall becomes more reliant upon Castle Churn. 

Deceit/Skirmishes - Under a false banner, soldiers from Castle Churn have been attacking the outer lands of Buckwall, hindering their already struggling farmlands, hoping to stir the vassals into rebellion against the Boulder Knight. 

Buckwall and Daybreak

Adoring/Successor - In desperate times, the Boulder Knight has proclaimed the Dawnfather as his successor, swayed by the promises of his cult. 

Conquest/Truce - Of course, this didn't come about peacefully, but followed a failed attempt by Buckwall to conquer some of the outer lands of Daybreak's domain, the oath of succession being a necessary part of the truce to avoid a violent counter-attack against the Boulder Knight's weakened realm. 

Castle Churn and Daybreak

Secret/Peer - The Chain Knight is secretly a part of the sun cult, with equal rank to the Dawnfather. Perhaps the Dawnfather is the face, the Chain Knight the brains. 

Debt/Tension - The wealthy lands of Castle Churn provided a lot of early support to the Dawnfather in establishing the sun cult, and likes to give occasional reminders that this debt should be repaid some day. 

You could work through even more Spark Tables to flesh this out, but I think it's a good starting point. 


This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon. 

Wednesday 22 November 2023

Mythic Bastionland - RAIDER MODE

Want to play Mythic Bastionland, but don’t want to be a Knight?

Well, it’s probably the wrong game for... no... wait... what if you were a Raider from beyond the seas instead?


This is untested. To be honest it’s mostly written off the cuff.

Play the game as normal, but with the following changes:

Raiders, not Knights

Roll your character as normal, but do not take a Knight type. You do not automatically know Feats.

Instead pick 1 from each of the following lists. 

Every raider hides a Blade (d6).


  1. Ice: Take Monstrous Furs (A1, treat as plate).
  2. Stone: You know Focus.
  3. Sea: You can drink saltwater.


  1. Toil: You know Deny.
  2. Travel: You can Gallop as if you were a steed.
  3. Thorns: Attack as 3d6 when unarmed.


  1. Slaughter: You know Smite.
  2. Sail: You can speak with your ship’s spirit.
  3. Stories: Take a horn and masked helm (A1). The animal on your mask respects you.

If two Raiders in the same Company make the same choices then they immediately fight each other. Loser has to change one.

Gold, not Glory

You don’t gain Glory. Instead your reputation is measured in Gold.

Now this doesn’t necessarily mean gold, but represents the riches you have on taken and flaunted. Riches which you presumably gained by raiding. If a raider has a lot of gold then it’s usually safe to assume they carry a brutal reputation with them.

Even if you squander all your riches, the reputation rubs off. It’s like people look at you and think “yeah, if they wanted more gold they could absolutely take it”.

Gain 1 Gold when you successfully raid a Holding. Gain 2 if it’s a Seat of Power and you get some really good stuff.

Gain 1 Gold if you murder another Raider of higher Gold than you and take their stuff. Gain 2 if you totally humiliate them.

Trading and mercenary work might get you paid, but it won’t get you Gold.

0 Gold - Sea Worm: Other raiders see you as utterly disposable.

3 Gold - Sea Crow: Some raiders know your name, and you get a petty funeral if you die.

6 Gold - Sea Wolf: Even the greatest raiders know your name and will invite you aboard.

9 Gold - Sea Bear: Worthy of a proper funeral, and you’re in a few stories.

12 Gold - Sea Hawk: You should have died by now. It’s suspicious if you aren’t actively seeking death.

Ships, not Steeds

You serve on a Longship (7gd, A1) led by a Sea Wolf. Roll their Virtues on d12+6 and their Guard on 2d6.

The ship has enough axes (d8 hefty), shields (A1, d4) , and javelins (d6) for the whole crew.

The rest of the crew are a warband of Raiders: VIG 13, CLA 10, SPI 10, 4gd

Bad Reputation

Arrive in the Realm by water. Commoners who see you will hide, flee, or plead. If you consistently don’t kill them they might start to see you merely as dangerous traders.

If you return to a Realm you have already raided they have improved their defences.

Knights hate raiders as a whole, but you might be able to talk them around to you personally. Depends what you do. Are you really all that bad?

Wait, Vikings weren’t really like this

Who said anything about Vikings? See also my universal caveat: MYTH NOT HISTORY.


Make sure to spread the word!


This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon. 

Wednesday 15 November 2023

Mythic Bastionland is Reality

After a week of funding, Mythic Bastionland has surpassed the Kickstarter totals for Into the Odd and Electric Bastionland combined!

As you might expect, the last week has been taken up by dealing with all of this, so I hope you'll forgive a lighter blogpost this week. Next week's post will be an untested, slightly silly variant of Mythic Bastionland for those who are already bored of the core game before it's even out. 

Oh, and yesterday I did an AMA on Reddit, which you can read here. 

Until next week, I appreciate everybody helping to spread the Mythic word. 

Tuesday 7 November 2023

Mythic Bastionland is LIVE

 It's finally time!

Mythic Bastionland is LIVE NOW over on Kickstarter, so go and pledge if you want a copy of the book.

Feel like sharing the link around? Thanks, that would be great!

Having a great day-one really helps with visibility on Kickstarter, so I appreciate everyone who's able to jump on board right away. 

Wednesday 1 November 2023

The Toil

 First of all, go and follow Mythic Bastionland on Kickstarter

Less than a week till launch, and as you'd imagine I'm quite busy!

So this week, enjoy a little art preview.



Make sure to spread the word!


This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon. 

Wednesday 25 October 2023

That Feeling of Glaive on Gambeson

First of all, go and follow Mythic Bastionland on Kickstarter

Okay, onto the post.

What use is an RPG if it doesn't have a giant list of weapons and armour?

After all, this was one of my favourite pages of my first D&D book.

Not to mention this beauty.

In the process of writing Mythic Bastionland I've done a bit of deep-diving into medieval weapons and armour, so the red flags in those pieces leap out at me now.

Still, I remember loving those spreads because somehow the art makes it all feel very real. 

But what does it matter? That's for D&D, a fantasy game, so who cares if the weapons favour style over historicity or practicality?

Mythic Bastionland is also overtly Myth not History. I have that phrase written at the bottom of my notes doc for this game. So why have I been spending so much time thinking about authenticity?

Let's break this down into weapons and armour. 

Weapons in Mythic Bastionland largely follow on from Into the Odd and Electric Bastionland. You've got single handed weapons that do d6 or d8 damage, then two-handed weapons that do d8 or d10, though the larger die types are a little easier to get hold of in this setting. Swords get special treatment, rolling multiple dice, which in this system results in you keeping the single highest result, so they're more reliable and have some extra benefits when you dig into the Feat and Gambit systems. 

Bulky is gone. Since you're all Knights with, at the very least, a steed, it's easier to justify extra load. You might have a Squire to carry even more stuff, so let's just not bother tracking it at all. 

There's also much less focus on hauling treasure back from dungeons, so fewer interesting decisions to be had about what stuff you leave behind. 

Instead, the interesting decisions around weapons in this game are:

  • What do I use in each hand? Two-hander? Dual weapons? Weapon and shield? It's not super complex but there are definitely times you might consider switching up for a particular situation.
  • If my weapon does something fancy, like the Talon Knight's hookhammer (bonus when leaping down onto the enemy), how do I set that up?
  • Am I going to be fighting somewhere that makes certain weapons especially appealing or awkward to use?

Now that last one not have lots of rules support in the game. There's a mention that long weapons are impaired in tight spaces, and you've got things like skeletons being resistant to piercing attacks, but looking at the weapon list there's zero difference between a Spear (d8 hefty) and Axe (d8 hefty). 

Except that Spear is obviously going to be longer than the axe, so you can probably use it to fight over a barricade, or from behind an ally. 

And of course the Axe is better at breaking down doors. Obviously the spear is no good for that.

So the book doesn't present rules for these things because you already know those rules. I suspect this might rub some readers the wrong way, but I do hope that in most at-the-table situations these things just sort of... work naturally. 

In terms of building a weapons list that's appropriate to the implied era of Mythic Bastionland, I'm clearly drawing on the medieval period. 

But which bit of it? Early-medieval makes sense as the setting for Arthurian Myth.

So javelins and bows rather than longbows and crossbows. Spears and axes rather than swords and halberds.

Except... Arthurian myths very often take a more generous approach when it comes to equipment. Most images of a Knight are drawing on late-medieval or even early-Renaissance stuff. So we throw those fancy weapons back in, but just make them rare. Only very few of the Knights actually start with a sword. That guard can have a halberd though, it just looks right. 

So as with so many before me, I'm walking a tightrope of wanting some of that historical feel while also wanting that mythic freedom to pull in things that feel right stylistically, if not realistically. The focus on rarity rather than cost should help with this, as owning a sword isn't about getting enough money. There isn't even a price listed for each weapon. Instead, you've got to actually find somebody who wants to sell one or can make you one from scratch. At this point you might as well just kill another Knight and take theirs, perhaps grab their Holding while you're at it. 

That still counts as Protecting the Realm, right? I mean it's probably safer under my watch. 

Armour also follows the same baseline of the previous games in the series. Armour gives you a point of armour, a shield gives you another. 

Except now I've added helms and plates (extra armour worn to battle) as two other ways to grab armour points, giving a fully armoured Knight Armour 4, something unfathomable in Into the Odd

Part of this is balanced out by the general increase in damage output, but that's not really the whole point. Again it comes down to creating interesting choices.

Let's say you own the full set of armour: coat, plates, helm, shield. You aren't just walking around suited-up all day every day. The general assumption is that helms and plates are removed when you're travelling or socialising, and we all know that shields can be shattered. 

Here armour is less about permanently etching the highest number you can onto your character sheet, and more about considering the situational nature of your protective gear. 

If you really want to kill a Knight then facing them in an open battle means you're facing the full wall of steel. Why not just come at them with daggers when they're out riding in just their gambeson? Or invite them into your home and kill them there... wait, what sort of game is this again?

Again, I want gear in this game to feel more nuanced than "when can I buy that fancy gear", instead looking at the actual decisions somebody would need to make about their equipment. 

As a side note, I do get a small pleasure from including layers of armour here. Coats represent flexible protection that you can generally wear all day (mail, gambeson) while Plates are the hard stuff layered on top for battle (plate, brigandine, splint). Then you've got the self-explanatory helms and shields. There's definitely a sort of paper-doll appeal where I can visualise very clearly how a character looks different based on which combination of their armour they're currently equipped with, slotting the paper armour on top of their outline. I think today... the hauberk under the brigandine, the great helm on top. 

I guess I'm just not used to the novelty of considering what an individual character looks like in various grades of protection. In so many games it can feel like they're welded inside their harness of choice.

While I'm not looking to provide an accurate simulation of the weapons and armour of a particular period of history, I want the players to look at their gear and interact with it in a way that makes it feel real

Even if it's all just a myth. 


This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon. 

Wednesday 18 October 2023

Fire from Sparks

EDIT: Oh, I messed this up and posted this week's Patreon post instead of last week's! That means you'll get last week's post... next week. Hope that makes sense.

It's a busy week over here! Just 21 days till Mythic Bastionland goes live on Kickstarter. 

With me being somewhat pressed for time today I've decided to use this as an example of just how quickly Spark Tables can help you to generate an interesting location and the people within it.

This can be done ahead of a session to add to your notes or returned to when improvisation is needed.

For fun, let's use all 18 of them, focusing in on a single hex.



LAND 1/2 - Barren Heath

Simple enough. So you'd normally see lots of shrubs but even for a heath this is quite sparse, bordering on a wasteland if not for the patches of grass and heather.

SKY 2/6 - Violet Mist

Even the low-hanging clouds here have a hint of lavender to them, perhaps melting into the heather in places.

WATER 5/4 - Cobalt Churn

Despite being barren there are brooks and streams, babbling violently in deep blue, like the water can't wait to get out of here. 

WEATHER 8/7 - Solid Thunder

There's a constant low rumbling in the air, the violet clouds darkening to black in the distance, as if thunder waits on every horizon. 

FLORA 5/12 - Towering Roots

Breaking up the open areas of heather are huge, archlike, exposed roots, not visibly part of any nearby tree, presumably remnants of a time when this was all primordial forest.

FAUNA 5/3 - Mischievous Canines

Packs of small wolves lurk amongst the roots and shrubs, generally living as scavengers, but also known for stealing food from travellers . Their bark can imitate a human scream, using it to lure travellers away from their camps, leaving their meals unguarded. 

FEATURE 8/2 - Veiled Seat

The most prominent natural landmark is a thronelike rock formation atop a lone hill, the violet mists normally concealing it behind a lavender veil. 

WONDER 9/10 - Temptation Wind

On especially windy days it's said that the violet mists stir up aromas to mislead travellers. Scents of home, fresh-baked bread, fermenting mead, or sweet fruit stewing. 

OTHERWORLD 1/7 - Acidic Cavern

Rumours claim a cavern lies somewhere among the roots, leading down into a warren of caves dripping with corrosive bile. Prized by alchemists, but a deathtrap to explorers. 

Okay so what about the Holding that sits in this place?


HOLDING 4/8 - Ancient Dome

The domed keep of this place has always been here. Some say it was coated in gold in its original purpose, but now it's cracked, bare grey stone.

BAILEY 1/4 - Filthy Fountain 

Within the walls, an at-first impressive fountain trickles dull, grey water. Once it was prized for its healing qualities, but now nobody dares to drink from it. 

KEEP 10/12 - Cauldron & Shields

Within the Keep, the ruler still keeps the great cauldron at the centre of the hall, a relic from the dome's lost purpose. The walls are lined with the shields of Knights who died fighting here, whether they were attackers or defenders. 

PERSON 11/8 - Soft & Cynical

The portly ruler recently took to the throne, and is a rare example of a non-Knight taking up a position of rulership. Sceptical of the old ways of Seers and Knights, this ruler seems less enamoured with the traditions that surround his position. 

AMBITION 3/12 - Status (because of) Hatred

It goes further than that. He outright hates Knights. He thinks a commoner like him should be on the Seat of Power, and in fact every Holding would be improved by the rule of somebody who understands normal folk. He knows he has to play the political game, but misses no opportunity to undermine the authority of Knights. 

RELATIONSHIP 10/7 - Sworn Rival

Here a neighbouring ruler goes beyond just being a rival, it's sworn on something. Perhaps this ruler felt a nearby Knight was so dangerous that they visited a Seer, swearing to defeat the Knight in return for the Seer's blessing. Quite why this cynical man would want that is unclear, but we can work that out as we go. 

DRAMA 8/2 Revelation & Poison

A plot to poison this ruler was recently foiled! The traitor was revealed and executed, perhaps a council member, leaving an opening for ambitious player-Knights. 

WOE 7/1 - Mysterious Disease

The commoners of this domain have their own problems, people falling ill seemingly without a common link, a sickness of the lungs that can appear anywhere and strike anyone.

QUEST 10/10 - Salvage Holding

With his own resources tied up in the Drama and Woe above, the ruler is missing out on an opportunity. A nearby fort has lain abandoned for a generation now, sitting atop land of no worth, the commoners having long-since moved onto other domains. Anybody who swears loyalty to the ruler of this hex will have his blessing in going out to reclaim this Fort as a new holding. 

And so the d12s have spoken.

See, that gives us plenty to work off all within a single hex. 

Check out the Mythic Bastionland Quickstart and try them out for yourself.


This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon. 

Wednesday 11 October 2023

The Myth of Balance


This has everything you need to run the game, the full rules section, and 12 Knights and Myths to get you started. Also filled with amazing art from Alec Sorensen. 

This one accurately shows how it feels to return to Twitter in order to promote an upcoming Kickstarter


As I previously wrote, balance isn’t about making things equal, it’s about preserving interesting choices.

So I’ve been doing a lot of balance tweaking to Mythic Bastionland recently, especially in the use of Feats and Gambits.

Feats are special things that Knights can do at the cost of losing d6 points in a specific Virtue. When you hit zero in any Virtue you’re Exhausted and can’t use Feats.

Gambits are special combat actions that an attacker can perform by discarding an attack die showing 4 or higher. Stuff like disarming, dismounting, pushing, pinning, or just an extra point of damage.

For Feats, a few things came up in testing that I wanted to try to fix:

  • Some Feats felt  extremely useful, especially the one that lets you discard attack dice against you. You basically needed to learn to use this one if you wanted to stay alive, and in some cases there were very clear situations where using this Feat was a no-brainer decision.
  • Some Feats felt very niche in their use. One granted an indiscriminate Blast to your attack, making it essential against Warbands and large groups but you’d never use it in a duel. Because each Feat is tied to a specific Virtue, which are rolled at random, it can feel bad when you realise your high score is in the super-niche Feat, and your low score is in the absolutely essential survival Feat.
  • Having a very low score in any one Virtue meant that you were at a high risk of becoming Exhausted and losing access to all of your Feats, even if you had a high score in the Virtue that Feat used.

So here’s what’s changed:

  • The defensive Feat that previously removed enemy attack die now rerolls them, keeping the new result. Now it’s a bit more situational, best used when that enemy d10 rolls a 9 or 10, instead of an absolutely essential cog in the system that every player would expect to use multiple times per battle.
  • The Blast effect has been rolled into the Smite Feat that grants extra damage, giving you the choice of which effect to gain. So now there’s just one Feat for both variants of “do a big attack”. Replacing this is a new Feat that interacts with the Gambit system (see below).
  • Dropping to 0 in a Virtue now only prevents use of that particular Feat, and comes with an additional downside. 0 Vigour is now Exhausted meaning you can’t attack after moving. 0 Clarity means you’re Exposed. 0 Spirit means your attacks are Impaired. You still really want to avoid dropping to 0, but doing so doesn’t prevent you using the other Feats.

Gambits raised some of their own issues in testing.

  • By throwing a Smite onto your attack, granting an extra d12 attack die, it was quite easy to dismount or disarm somebody, both things that can be hugely impactful on a combat. In a joust the former might even end up earning an instant victory. Similarly, it felt a bit too easy to just shatter a wooden shield at the start of a combat.
  • Sometimes players want to try a disarm or dismount manoeuvre, but their specific weapon just wasn’t very likely to cause the result. They could Smite to increase their chances but it felt a bit at odds with the idea of a Smite as a more powerful attack.
  • It felt a bit odd using Gambits to push or pin strong enemies. Naturally the GM can just say “no, the ogre is too big to push” or grant the target a Save, but I wanted some stronger guidance in place.

And again, here’s what I’m trying out:

  • Gambit effects that directly affect the enemy give the target a Save, and weapons and shields are just trapped, not disarmed or broken. However, if you use a die showing 8+, instead of the normal 4+ required for a Gambit, then it’s a Strong Gambit and you bypass the Save or attempt a stronger effect such as breaking shields and disarming weapons. This means large weapons are much more suited to perform strong gambits, especially if you add in a Smite, but even then it’s not something you can count on occurring. A Smiting Knight with a Poleaxe (d10) is just below 60%.
  • A new Feat, Focus, lets the attacker use any die to perform a Gambit, instead of requiring 4+, giving a Clarity Save to avoid Fatigue. This means the high Clarity Knight is more effective at spotting and exploiting the more subtle opportunities, but the high Vigour Knight is still more effective at smashing shields and dismounting enemy Knights.
  • Even with the added complexity of Gambits I think it helps that none of these effects feel essential and you only really need to think about this little subsystem if you want to do something fancy, otherwise taking the Bolster effect to cause extra damage when it makes sense.

Again, this is a bit of a call to action. Just because your game doesn’t lean into “game balance” in the traditional sense doesn’t mean there aren’t balancing issues you should be keeping watch for.


This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon. 

Wednesday 4 October 2023

Opt-In Creativity

Note: I've changed a few details of this post since it was published on Patreon, as I've tweaked some of the rules I'm talking about here and want to avoid confusion.

TTRPGs are innately creative. 

At the very least, even if you're playing in "pawn mode", seeing your character as a playing piece to push around the map, there's an expected amount of creativity above sitting down to play a videogame. You have to answer that question "what do you do?" quite often without having a straightforward answer on your character sheet.

BUT my personal tastes are that a moderate amount of required creativity can go a long way.

You know how some games do that thing where you deal lethal damage to an opponent and the GM says...

"Okay... tell me how you kill them!"

As a player, some days I enjoy that, others I don't. 

Some days my creativity is focused almost wholly on answering "what do you do?" and answering other questions like "how does your character feel about this?" or "what person from your character's background shows up here?" can feel like more pressure than I want out of a leisure activity.

It's part of the reason that some players gravitate to Fighters in old D&D, seeing the whole "all you can do on your turn is attack!" complaint as a feature, not a bug. 

But of course I'm not advocating for removal of all creative prompts for players. On other days I love answering those character questions, inventing gruesome attack descriptions, and luxuriating in a silly voice.

Which is why I try to design my games with Opt-in Creativity.

There are openings for creativity, but there's another road to take if you aren't feeling it. Even simple stuff like having a list of sample character names in the book can help here.

A recent Mythic Bastionland rule change got me thinking about this.

Previously, if you rolled the maximum possible value on your attack die (i.e. 6 on a d6) you got to describe an Onslaught, an additional effect to the attack, stuff like pushing, pinning, disarming, dismounting, smashing shields, but it was left open to player creativity within certain bounds.

This is not Opt-in Creativity, and I've seen the downsides of it in the flesh.

Some players cheer when they roll an Onslaught, carefully consider what to do, and describe how they drive the enemy onto the slippery ground as they fight them back.

Others freeze. They don't know what to do. None of the suggestions seem all that useful in this specific situation. Errmm... I don't know, I guess I disarm them if that's okay.

Well Onslaughts are gone now. Not entirely for that reason, but that's part of it.

Now, when you roll your attack dice you may discard a die showing 4 or higher to perform a Gambit, 8 or higher giving you an increased effect. It's the same effect as an Onslaught, but requiring you to think of a fancy thing you want to do you can always choose to just add 1 damage to the attack instead. 

After a few tests there are some nice benefits here:

  • Having that +1 damage option means there's never a situation where you roll a Gambit and feel like it's going to waste, or you're lacking the creative juice to think of something interesting.
  • They aren't just random windfalls, they'll often come with a choice. If you roll an 8 and a 6 then using the 6 for a Gambit is usually a no brainer, but what about a 5 and a 3? Are you willing to trade 2 damage now to make the long-term situation better by possibly dismounting that Knight? 
  • It makes weapons with bigger die-types more likely to trigger Gambits. That d10 billhook is going to generate Gambits much more often than the d6 handaxe, and more often at increased effect, so it really shows off those big weapons as having the utility that they should. If you don't want to get dismounted then don't go near those two guys with polearms!
  • While Shields (d4 damage) don't often trigger Gambits on their own, they mean a solo attacker can use their main weapon to perform a Gambit while still doing some damage. 
  • With dice used for Gambits being discarded it makes Smites more useful, as that adds a d12 to your pool, but it also makes Deny (formerly Foil/Deflect urgh, why do I rename things so often?) more useful, as you can use it to reduce the enemy's gambit die, or the remaining damage dice. 
  • Say you team up four against one, perhaps a few of you Smiting for extra dice. You're rolling a big pool of dice, and you're probably going to have a few spare 4+ dice ripe for Gambits. This might just lead to a high-damage attack, but it can create fun moments where one Knight shatters the target's shield, another surrounds them, cutting off their retreat, and the third delivers the wounding blow. 

So while there are lots of little decisions in there there's always an easy way out if you don't want to engage too deeply with the system. 

Oh, and we have a (non-final) cover now.

Expect the Quickstart doc with updated rules around the start of next week. 


This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon. 

Wednesday 27 September 2023

The State of Mythic Bastionland

I'm still toiling away on the pre-Kickstarter Quickstart version of Mythic Bastionland, which is taking slightly longer than expected. In short, I want this version to be as close to the final rules as I can manage at this point, and I want to get as much of Alec's artwork in there as possible. At the moment I'd put the ETA in early October. 

In previous versions of the game the changes have lurched back and forth between various levels of abstraction. 

Abstraction is useful, perhaps crucial, in how I like my games to work. I like players to have the information to make meaningful decisions, and abstraction really helps with this.

If I say "your sword arm feels tired, and the impact of that hammer took your breath away, but you're still up on your feet" it's not entirely clear how much serious harm you took or how close you are to dying.

If I add "your Guard is reduced to 0 and you lost 4 Vigour, so you're down to Vigour 6" then you know 3 damage will deal a Mortal Wound and 6 will Slay you. 

So I guess I like to have it both ways. Abstraction to represent a fair and visible set of consequences for player actions, but avoiding going so far down that path that we lose track of the narrative situation or feel like we're playing a numbers game. 

The upcoming Quickstart release feels like a nice balance between the two. 

Here are some of the changes you can expect.

These were probably too abstract for my tastes, with each type of Landmark simply causing loss or recovery of a specific Virtue when encountered. The hex crawling procedure is going to feel a touch more abstract than the dungeon-crawling of Into the Odd just because of the distances and timescales involved, but I wanted to pull it back from the precipice of feeling like a boardgame mechanic. 

For example, Dwellings previously restored Vigour, but now they're simply noted as a place you might be able to find hospitality, which is the standard means of recovering Vigour. The effect is the same, Dwellings are good for recovering Vigour, but the presentation is focused on what a Dwelling actually is, rather than being the hex you land on to recover Vigour. 

Sanctums work in the same way, each now housing a Seer, who have been mostly booted out of standard Holdings. Sanctums previously restored Clarity, but getting guidance from a Seer is the main way to restore Clarity, so the Sanctum's benefit is now tied to a specific concrete action (which you might not get if you piss off the Seer) instead of being an innate effect of the hex. 

The negative Landmarks have also been changed, and still carry risks, but present the Knights with some sort of choice or problem instead of just whacking them with the consequences. 

Here's an example of a mechanic where I've actually added more abstraction. 

Previously I wanted to avoid a limit on how many Remedies that can be carried, but I've yielded to reason and said that each Remedy represents a large package of stuff and so a character or beast of burden can generally just carry one.

Yeah this is literally the only piece of equipment in the game with a hard rule limiting how many can be carried. Rules as written you can carry a billion shields but I don't feel like that needs abstracting because it's not that likely to come up and I think most referees would work it out just fine. 

If the Knights want to load up a cart with Sustenance ahead of a big fight then go for it, but I'd imagine that comes with its own complications. 

What is Glory worth?

There was a point where I thought about stealing point 4 from this blogpost and having Glory simply go up by one point every session you play, then you can roll against your Glory to see if somebody has heard of you.

But the actual point of Glory is to have the game feel different after 3 sessions, and even more different after 12 sessions, so I linked it to the idea of Worthiness. More Glory means your knight will naturally stumble into opportunities to take a place in court, and eventually rule their own domain. 

And, of course, maybe go and Find the City.

The specific ways of earning Glory have changed throughout past versions, but right now when a Myth is resolved (one way or another) every Knight involved gets 1 Glory. Are you in the story they'll tell about this Myth? Take your Glory. That's it.

Oh and you passively gain a Glory when you advance to a new Age. When we come back after a time skip things should feel a bit different, right?

It's an abstraction, because one point of Glory doesn't really mean anything to a Knight, but there are real titles and opportunities to be gained as you grow in Glory, so it's more rooted in the reality of the world than something like XP or Level. 

And no, you don't get Glory for "protecting the realm" or "honouring the seers". You'll probably do those things anyway for one or more of these reasons:

  • You took an oath!
  • You want to protect (most of) the people you meet
  • Seers are useful to keep on your side even if they're annoying
  • The realm might eventually become your realm and you'd like it to be intact

And if you don't want to do those things then what do I care? It's your Knight. 

If you want to be first to grab the preview doc when it's released then go and follow the Kickstarter now


This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon. 

Wednesday 20 September 2023

Mythic Sparks

In Mythic Bastionland I have a bunch of prompts across the bottom of each of the 72 Knight/Myth spreads, meaning you can roll a d6 and a d12 to get a random entry for Person, Name, Characteristic, Object, Beast, State, Theme, Dwelling, Sanctum, Monument, Hazard, Curse, Ruin. 

Yet Spark Tables still call to me, so I've thrown in a page of them as well. 

This should be especially useful for getting quick descriptions for wilderness hexes and holdings, as that was a bit of a gap in the game previously.

Oh... and that frame looks pretty nice too, right?



This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon. 

Wednesday 13 September 2023


From the Oddpocrypha section of Mythic Bastionland, talking about Death. The keen-eyed among you will notice some terminology change from the current playtest document, but the new version will be released soon.


Tal has been spotted sneaking into a guarded tower. Their Spirit has already been depleted on the journey and from using Deflect, and now their Guard has been depleted by the first volley of arrows. Moss ducks out of sight of the enemies but Tal runs for the tower.

The sentries roll high on their attack dice and Tal has no choice but to take the damage reducing their VIG to 0, meaning they are Slain outright. 

Ref: Oh, wow. One of the arrows flies straight into Tal’s throat… they fall to the ground, a pool of blood forming. They’re slain.

Moss: What!?

Tal: Argh, I knew that was a dumb thing to do. Is there anything else I can do?

Ref: I mean you’re out of Guard, Spirit, and Vigour, so I think that’s it for Tal.

Tal sighs and folds up the character sheet.

Ref: Well we have less than an hour left tonight, so I’d recommend we sort your new character at the start of the next session, or you can do it at home. You can make a brand new Knight or you could take on a successor. You had that squire who was injured, maybe they could get Knighted for themselves.

Tal: Yeah. Urgh, I should have ran away.

Moss: Hey we’ve both been taking risks, this could have happened to me. Can I recover the body? Tal deserves a proper funeral after all.

Ref: Oh definitely, we’ll get to that. In the mean time I’ll get Tal a character for now. Moss, what’s your plan after recovering Tal?

Moss: Well I need to get to safety for the night. Oh, and I look for Tal’s Raven!

Ref: Sure. Tal, you okay?

Tal: Yeah, I guess I was just getting attached to this character. 

Ref sets up Tal with a character for the rest of the session, using a prompt to get a new character to meet Moss as quickly as possible. Between sessions Tal rolls a new Knight to join the company, the Riddle Knight. 


Death is tricky, but I believe a game based around Knights benefits from its presence. 

It’s usually considered a sort of “fail state” of the game, and Mythic Bastionland embraces the more unpredictable side of death instead of great sacrifices scripted ahead of time. If your Guard, Spirit, and Vigour are all getting low then it’s advisable to do everything you can to avoid taking further damage. 

Although it’s a failure of that character, who would surely rather be alive, it’s not a failure of the ongoing story of the game. All Knights die in the end. This is why they seek successors, heirs, squires. 

Many referees would be tempted to find a way to keep Tal alive. Dying to the arrow of a nameless sentry feels like an ignoble end for a protagonist, but we can see that Tal had opportunities to avoid this. As a Referee, if in doubt, make sure players understand this risk when they take such an action. 

Of course, it still feels bad. The player might feel embarrassed that they let it happen, or sad that they won’t get to continue using their character. It’s perfectly fine to take a moment to acknowledge these feelings, and make sure that the player doesn’t feel the death was somehow unfair or unwarranted. Here I prefer an impartial approach. If the rules say they’re slain, then they’re slain.

The Referee didn’t kill Tal, the arrows did. 

The feelings will remain, but the important thing is that the player is angry at the arrows, not the Referee.

Ref does the right thing here by getting Tal right back into the game with a new character, even if it’s just a temporary one for this session. Elevating an existing NPC to become Tal’s new character would be great, but sometimes none of the existing characters quite fit, so it makes sense to just introduce a new Knight. 

In most cases I’d default to starting the new Knight as a Young Petty Knight, but if the rest of the Company are quite established then it might make more sense to start them as an Exemplar. 


This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon. 

Wednesday 6 September 2023

My First Traveller Supplement

Note: As usual, this post is coming a week later than it was written for Patreon. I'm back in good health now!

So one of the boons of being self-employed is that you can just take a day off work whenever you want.

The reality is that you usually feel like you absolutely must not do that.

So today I'm not feeling great. Nothing too serious, but I might have phoned in sick in my previous job. 

Can you see where this is going?

While I've been working as normal today, my mind has crumbled at the task of writing a thoughtful post for the week, so instead you can look at some pictures from a book that came in the post for me.

It's a reprinting of the Usborne Book of the Future from 1979. A familiar sight, even though it predated my birth. Much has been said about the charm of the 1970s vision of the future, but this book in particular fills me with warm nostalgia. 

I even reckon this makes for the decent seeds of a Traveller supplement, or Ask the Stars if you're fancy. I especially love the page on "Ristos".

So enjoy, and I'll be back on top form next week.


This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon. 

Wednesday 30 August 2023

Striders & Riders

Want to use power-walkers or Mech-like units in The Doomed?

How about some cavalry or bikers?

I've got you covered with Striders & Riders.

DISCLAIMER These rules are completely untested and likely broken.

Great striding machines

Striders can be taken by any Faction and must be assigned to a Pilot, who can be any member of the Warband. When buying equipment, equip it to either the Pilot or the Strider.

Pilot and Strider act as if they were a single unit, receiving 3 actions as normal.

Use the Pilot’s QL and Skills for attacks. Attacks can only use weapons equipped to the Strider.

Use the Strider’s QL and Skills for all other actions.

When inside the Strider the maximum actions for Shooting and Fighting apply to each individual weapon, so a Strider with 3 ranged weapons could Shoot with each of them once per turn, using 3 Actions.

When the unit would be Killed the Pilot ejects safely. The Strider is disabled and now the Pilot can only use their own equipment.


Mountain-Class (3+ Tough) [6pts]
Toughened Hull: Ignore any Shock rolls you wish.
Shield (+1 to Saves when Readied)

Raptor-Class (3+ Nimble) [5pts]
Shield (+1 to Saves when Readied)

Factory Class (3+) [4pts]
Tool-Claw (M1x3)

The cavalry of the doomed world

Riders can be taken by any Faction.

Every Rider must have a Mount. They are treated as one unit for all purposes, but each action is assigned to either the rider or mount, each with their own limit for specific actions. The combined unit of Rider and Mount still receive 3 Actions per turn as normal.

So a turn could look like this:

  • Action 1: The Rider uses Move and the combined unit moves.
  • Action 2: The Mount uses Move and the combined unit moves without needing to roll, as this is the Mount’s first move.
  • Action 3: The Mount uses Move, this time requiring a roll using their QL and Skills.

When they take Damage the player decides whether to Save as the Rider or Mount.

The first time the unit would be Wounded the Rider is instead Dismounted and the Mount is removed from the battle. The Rider suffers Shock but ignores any results that would have them die on this roll.

Use common sense when determining which terrain a rider can move through or over, but err on the side of generosity with a creative explanation.


Steed (Tough 5+) [2pts]
Cannot carry equipment
Ram: Move into contact with an enemy and cause 1 Damage to them.

Beast (Fierce 4+) [5pts]
Cannot carry equipment
Ram: Move into contact with an enemy and cause 1 Damage to them.
Claws (M3x1)

Machine (Nimble 5+) [3pts]
Can be fitted with Ranged Weapons.
Ram: Move into contact with an enemy and cause 1 Damage to them.


This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon.